By now, you've probably heard about some of the more exciting announcements from Amazon's fall 2020 event, like the Ring Always Home Cam or the new favorite for the best smart screen in Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen). There was also a whole host of new Echo speakers, Fire TV Sticks, and other gadgets from Ring and Eero that we can't wait to pour over and dissect during the coming weeks and months.
Many of these devices are updated versions of older models, with new designs and new features. However, the one I'm most excited about is the Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen), but not necessarily for the reasons you might think. Oh sure, I can't wait to test out its impressive new speakers and camera, but there is one use case that will get the most screen time for me, and that is as a digital photo frame.
The Amazon Echo Show 10 is shaping up to be the best smart screen ever
The 2020 (or 2021, depending on when it actually ships) Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen) is the biggest Echo smart speaker ever. It's the biggest in terms of sheer size, of course, with a 10.1-inch screen and rotating base and speaker unit, but it is also the biggest swing Amazon has ever taken on one of its smart speakers. Or anyone really, for that matter.
This new Echo Show is the perfect Alexa speaker and ideal kitchen or living room assistant. It's the most recent and most fully-featured device in the Echo Show lineup, and it looks to replace the Echo Show (2nd Gen), which is still in stock and heavily discounted right now through Prime Day 2020.
In addition to its large display, the device comes with a 13MP front-facing camera, which is a considerable improvement over the 5MP camera on the Echo Show (2nd Gen) or the 1MP camera on the smaller Echo Show devices. Audio should be much improved with two 1-inch tweeters and a 3-inch woofer, making Zoom calls and video binges sound better than ever. And speaking of video binges, the Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen) has added official Netflix support to its stable of streaming video services, so you can get caught up on your favorite reality cooking show while you're preparing dinner.
It seems a given that many, if not most people, put these smart screen devices in areas like the kitchen, where they need hands-free access to some kind of visual content. The only problem is that the smart screens are usually stationary; until now. The display of the Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen) sits atop a rotating base, and it can use its front-facing camera to identify the shape of bodies and follow them around the space so that the display is always visible to them.
Perhaps most impressive of all are the Echo Show 10's security features. Users can control the device remotely from their Alexa app and pan around the room to check on their home when they're away from it. There is also a "sentry mode" that can be enabled to automatically scan the room while the owners are gone. It's all pretty cool and pretty advanced stuff.
Of course, Amazon addresses one of the primary use cases of a smart display right in its marketing materials when it says that you can customers can "use Amazon Photos to turn your home screen into a digital frame that makes your favorite pics look great..." and this no doubt true. I use Amazon Photos on my Fire TVs and Echo Show devices to see my favorite photos, but even as a fan of Amazon's photo service and its Echo devices, I still think that something is missing.
Why the Amazon Echo Show 10 isn't quite the best smart screen yet
And yet as impressive as the Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen) looks to be, there's one major omission that might be a barrier to people swapping out their Nest Hubs and Lenovo Smart Displays, and that is Google Photos support.
Look, I'm not saying that Amazon Photos is a bad service, far from it. As a Prime member, I happily use Amazon Photos as my secondary photo backup across my phones and devices, and I love being treated to memories popping up on my Echo Show 5 and Fire TVs when they're not actively in use. I just think that there are some little things that Google Photos does that make Google smart screens better as smart digital frames.
For starters, Google Photos is just better at picking the right photo(s) at the right time. Its machine learning and artificial intelligence always seem to know what I'd like to see. In contrast, Amazon Photos seems to mindlessly and randomly display photos from daily memories or specific albums, regardless of their quality. Both services allow you to set preferences on which photos, albums, or even faces you see in your slideshows, but Google Photos goes that extra step in choosing just the right photos to show you. I know this is somewhat subjective, but everyone that I've spoken to about this agrees. And those people use both services for comparison.
In addition to picking the best photos, Google Photos does little things like adjusting the orientation of an image from portrait to landscape, or whatever makes sense given the nature of the subject and the display itself. Amazon Photos never does this. Even when the orientation is correct, it often zooms in or crops in curious areas, sometimes showing a belly button where Google Photos might have adjusted the size of the image or focused on the face.
These are relatively minor points, it's true, but if you enjoy using your smart display as a photo frame, they may matter to you. It would be great if Amazon and Google could bury the hatchet on this point and allow for the Google Photos app, or at least access to the Google Photos API, to be ported to Echo Show and Fire TV devices. It would benefit Amazon because it generally has better hardware and can sell more of it. It would also benefit Google because it would keep people using its services and appetite for metadata. Will we ever see this cooperation? Who knows, but it has happened in the past.
Check out our full review
Be sure to check our our in-depth Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen) review to learn all about what this new device has to offer. In the review, we cover the new design changes, spec upgrades, and artificial intelligence and machine learning features that enable all kinds of cool use cases from home monitoring to giving you better viewing angles for calls and videos.
The new queen?
Striking new design and features
The all-new Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen) looks to be the perfect smart screen speaker for your home. It has a rotating screen that can follow you for better viewing angles, a much-improved camera, and it can function as a scanning security camera.
Currently on top
Stil our top pick for now
Google's Nest Hub Max has a big, bright screen that is the perfect canvas for showing off your best photo slideshows or watching streaming content. It can also be a stationary Nest security cam.
Jeramy is proud to help *Keep Austin Weird* and loves hiking in the hill country of central Texas with a breakfast taco in each hand. When he's not writing about smart home gadgets and wearables, he's defending his relationship with his smart voice assistants to his family. You can follow him on Twitter at @jeramyutgw.